Less Energy Intensive Transport

One way of tackling climate change and local air pollution would be to shift passenger journeys from higher polluting personal vehicles to public transport, walking and cycling. It is possible for buses to consume less fuel per passenger km. than cars.

Building compact communities with radial transport corridors with prioritised walking, cycling and public transport provision, easily accessible to shops and services should be a planning goal (see also Land Use Planning). This would reduce emissions and enhance economic and social development. While less time and money is wasted in traffic congestion, there would be more equitable access for those without personal transport.

For countries with a growing middle class, another challenge lies in improving the supply and quality of public transport to affect a modal shift. The challenge is to keep prices low enough so as to maintain and enhance access to jobs and services for the urban poor, whilst improving quality and performance enough to persuade the rising middle class to move from personal to public transport.

A number of practical measures are now being taken to re-invigorate public transport especially in growing economies like India and China where partnerships between government and the commercial sector have been developed to finance public transport projects. A metro system might be one of a package of solutions in larger cities, especially given its high standards of rider comfort and reliability. However, it is costly compared to Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and less accessible. The Bogota BRT now carries some 1.24 million passengers per day and has reduced the number of city vehicle trips from 18% to 11% between 1999 and 2005. This has freed up road space for cycling, walking and green space resulting in a doubling of the number of non-motorised trips from eight to 15% over the same period.

Like other successful public transport systems, the Bogota BRT has won back passengers by making each journey as quick and convenient as possible. A dedicated lane means that bus speeds are faster than cars on main arterial routes. Passengers are able to plan their trips easily by using an Internet journey planner or through their mobile phone. Feeder bus trips to each of the BRT hubs are free; reducing the time spent queuing for tickets. There are cycle parks situated at the main stations, allowing easy integration between green modes.

There are many factors in seeking a shift from cars to public transport and they depend on how private transport is managed as part of an integrated system. In this respect, strong deterrent measures to reduce car use will increase the share of public transport (Singapore, London and Victoria, Australia)

For longer distance journeys, shifting both passengers and freight from road and air transport to rail and sea is to be considered a key policy objective. Key challenges for transfering more freight to rail and sea were addressed as part of the EU's Marco Polo Project, which provided funding to support new players entering the marketplace and co-ordinated better Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) in the European Union. See also EU wide rail corridors)

Key documents

Key videos

Key Links